February 13, 2003

Getting to Know Janet Reno '60

Print More

Janet Reno ’60 knows how to relate to Cornell students.

“I struggled to get through chemistry,” said Reno with laughter in a sit-down interview with The Sun yesterday morning.

Reno, who arrived in Ithaca last Monday, is currently on campus as a Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of ’56 University Professor. During her time here, Reno will give two public lectures and will also participate in several policy analysis and management courses.

“It has been so exciting to be back,” Reno said. “One of the joys has been listening to students. It is wonderful to see the gorges and speak with faculty members.”

And, according to Reno, while new buildings have been constructed since she has left, not a great deal else has changed.

“Cornell was exciting in 1956 and it’s exciting now,” she said. “Just coming up the hill, talking to so many different people from so many different backgrounds has been incredibly exciting.”

Some changes have been more subtle than others.

“When I walk into RPCC [Robert Purcell Community Center], more attention is paid to the needs of students,” Reno said. “More sensitivity is provided to supporting the needs of students [in creating] a more complete campus.”

“The [Herbert F. Johnson] Art Museum is a marvelous facility,” Reno added.

Reno then reflected on the encounters she has had with students since her arrival.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of students,” Reno said. “They want to be involved, to contribute, to make a difference.”

“It’s an extraordinarily exciting time to be at Cornell,” Reno added.

The University should have two main missions, according to Reno.

First, the University should “take a leading role to teach students ‘the truth’,” Reno said. Citing the diversity of fields at Cornell, from psychologists to experts in media, law and communication, Cornell offers students a “remarkable opportunity to inform [themselves],” she added.

Secondly, Reno said that Cornell could “make a splendid contribution by using all the research and information available to